The Express TribuneThe Ahmadis living in Rawalpindi were not allowed to offer Eid prayers on August 20 at their main place of worship, Ewan e Tawheed, said a press release on Wednesday. The spokesperson of Jama’at Ahmadiyya Pakistan, Saleemuddin, said that “the government and local administration has violated Article 20 of the Constitution after stopping Ahmadis from congregating for Eid prayers. The Article 20 ensures every citizen to freely perform religious duties.” Saleemuddin, in the press release, stressed that the Ahmadis would never compromise or accept any pressure on their fundamental right to worship. “This is not only a denial of religious freedom but is also depriving the Ahmadis of an annual ritual where worship goes with social activity,” the press release added. According to a tweet by Saleemuddin, the order to stop Ahmadis from praying at their place of worship was issued by senior district officials.
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Nude Harry photos: How UK tabloids lost their sting
TMZ.COMBut what makes this story interesting -- and not just gratuitous tittle-tattle -- is the initial reluctance of the British press to even report the story in print or on their online digital media. It seems patently absurd to me that millions around the world can view the photographs online, yet no British newspaper would touch them. The big question is why? When grainy photographs were first published on the net by TMZ and seen by millions, the palace were forced to confirm it was him in the photos after speculation about the identity. In doing so his PR team reminded media outlets in the UK that the pictures were taken in a hotel suite where the prince would have had a reasonable expectation of privacy. This was a sharp move, given that every editor in this land would know that Clause 3 of the Press Complaints Commission Editor's Code of Practice states: "It is unacceptable to photograph individuals in private places without their consent." To publish in a UK tabloid then would be a clear breach. But the newspapers have been left impotent by this move. They have again been scooped by the digital media. This is a dangerous precedent and in my view tantamount to returning to the good old, bad old days of royal reporting when in 1936 American and European newspapers freely reported on the affair of King Edward VIII and Mrs. Simpson while an establishment deal meant nothing was reported in the British newspapers. Censorship of that royal story helped create the hysteria around the abdication crisis, polarizing opinion and may even have led to an atmosphere where the king felt he was forced to choose between love and duty. More importantly, surely -- like then -- the British paying public has a right to know what their royal family is up to. But post-Leveson -- the inquiry established in the aftermath of the News International phone-hacking scandal first revealed after both Princes William and Harry's phones were targeted -- no editor seemed, initially at least, is prepared to risk the backlash. Amid all the media navel-gazing there seems to be a genuine fear that the press feels it is no longer drinking in "The Last Chance Saloon" but time has already been called. But this latest naked Harry scandal is a watershed moment -- a moment when it is fair to ask: "Who is wagging the dog?" When I was a reporter on the tabloid Sun newspaper in 1991 old photos were circulated of Prince Andrew naked. Like Harry he was a playboy prince, dubbed "Randy Andy" by the tabloids. The then-Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie bought the pictures and simply ran them across a double page inside spread (with a crown jewel sticker to spare the prince's blushes) and waited for the reaction. The reaction was MPs huffed and puffed their outrage in parliament and sales of the newspaper went up. I understand as we go to publication that Fleet Street (as the national UK national newspapers are still collectively referred to) has woken up to the story. Picture desks were today busy negotiating for the pictures and new snaps in circulation. Even if they do publish it is clear that the online media is calling the shots -- forcing the papers to react when in the past it was always the newspapers that led. In these times with newspaper sales figure nose-diving it is critical for them to decide are they leaders or followers. Restricted by their own rules it leaves them exposed, giving the impression that they are slow to react.The problem newspapers face is that a new generation want news now, unrestricted and immediate. If they do not want to lose touch with that generation of readers altogether they have to at least compete with social and new media. As for Prince Harry, I do have sympathy for him. He has been betrayed by somebody and caught with his guard down. He could argue that he could expect privacy in his own hotel room, but the truth is he should have known that Las Vegas is not a place where you can expect anything other than trouble -- especially if you are one of the world's most famous people. He has been let down before -- who can forget the Harry the Nazi photos, again taken on a phone by somebody in a private venue. He could blame his protection team, I really do not understand why the S014 officers did not ask the girls for their mobile phones on security grounds. But in truth the only one who has let any one down is Harry. How 'soldier prince' Harry tore up royal rule book I know he is young, free and single -- but he is a prince with responsibilities. He is bright enough and should have learned from his mistakes. The shame is that he had turned the corner. He represented his grandmother admirably at the Olympics Closing Ceremony and on a recent tour this year to Jamaica. If the royal family is to be streamlined -- with Harry as one of the central public players -- he really has got to be more cautious about the company he keeps.
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/AMNESTY International has urged Pakistan to reform its blasphemy laws and protect a young Christian girl arrested for allegedly burning pages inscribed with verses from the Koran. The Muslim-majority nation's strict anti-blasphemy laws make defaming Islam or desecrating the Koran illegal and potentially punishable by death. Rimsha, who is between 10 and 13 years old and is reported to have Down Syndrome, was taken into custody in a low-income area of Islamabad on Thursday after furious Muslims demanded she be punished. Polly Truscott, Amnesty International's South Asia director, said the case showed the "erosion of the rule of law" in Pakistan and the dangers faced by those accused of blasphemy. "Amnesty International is extremely concerned for Rimsha's safety. In the recent past individuals accused of blasphemy have been killed by members of the public," Truscott said in a statement issued late Tuesday.President Asif Ali Zardari on Monday ordered officials to explain the arrest, while Christians fled the neighbourhood of Mehrabad in fear at Muslim anger over the incident. Truscott welcomed Zardari's response but warned it would count for little unless there were "greater efforts to reform the blasphemy laws to ensure they cannot be used maliciously to settle disputes or enable private citizens to take matters into their own hands." Neighbours said Rimsha had burned papers collected from a garbage pile for cooking in her family home and someone alerted the local cleric after spotting the remains being thrown out as rubbish. A Christian mother sentenced to death for blasphemy in late 2010 remains in prison, while last month, a mob snatched a mentally unstable man from a village police station and beat him to death in central Punjab province after he allegedly burned pages from a Koran.
As Pakistan is accused of fuelling ethnic tensions in India, we analyse the allegations and factors behind it.India has accused neighbouring Pakistan of fabricating threatening messages – sent by mobile phones and over the internet – that triggered a panic among migrant workers in southern Indian cities, driving thousands to flee their homes. The messages threatened revenge attacks by Muslims against people from indigenous communities in the northeastern state of Assam. As a result India has banned bulk messaging services for 15 days. In July, violence in Assam between the predominantly Hindu Bodo tribe and Muslim groups resulted in the deaths of at least 77 people. The clashes also displaced an estimated 400,000 people, mostly Muslims of Bangladeshi origin. A refugee camp has been set up in Jalpaiguri area of West Bengal. The Bodo claim the Muslims, who are mainly from Bangladesh and make up most of the immigrants in Assam, are trying to take their land. The state of Assam is home to more than 200 ethnic and tribal groups. Al Jazeera's Casey Kauffman reporting on the panic situation says Indian authorities have blocked several websites in Pakistan that show images of people allegedly killed in revenge attacks over the violence in Assam.Indian authorities have reportedly arrested four men in Bangalore and seized computers and mobile phones which had been used to send fake images from Assam. In this episode, Inside Story asks: How much of these latest allegations by India against Pakistan are true? And how will this affect the never-ending trouble between the two countries? Joining the discussion with presenter Ghida Fakhry are guests: KC Singh, a former Indian diplomat; Subir Sinha, a senior lecturer in Institutions and Development at the School of Oriental and African Studies; and Ahmed Quraishi, a columnist with News International and a Pakistan affairs analyst. "This is clearly an issue of ethnic tensions inside India that Pakistan has nothing to do with, there is no case of any Pakistani meddling in this matter … unless the Indian interior ministry comes up with some evidence, this is absolutely ridiculous." Ahmed Quraishi, a Pakistan affairs analyst
It’s hard enough to get a decent job in Pakistan. But those who do are finding it increasingly difficult to get paid. The country’s top court recently had to step in to order that three months’ back wages be paid to public-sector female medical staff, known here as “lady health workers.” The problem also extends to doctors: A group of newly recruited physicians, hired to replace striking doctors in Punjab province, say they have not received pay in six weeks. And last year, Pakistan Railways employees shut down the country’s train system for days in a protest over unpaid wages. The situation cuts across myriad professions and appears to be on the rise, evidently a symptom of general economic distress that includes currency devaluation, high inflation, poverty and a persistent energy crisis. Last month municipal workers in Karachi staged a protest in which they were beaten back by police with batons and tear gas. The workers were demonstrating because they had not been paid in two months. “The [salary] delays are recurring frequently and for longer periods,” one city official told the Express Tribune, an English-language daily. With the onset of the Eid holiday — a time of gift-giving and family celebrations — unpaid workers have expressed increasing despair. A young journalist with a small newspaper in Lahore recently leapt to her death, allegedly because she had not been paid for at least two months. Media organizations, including newspapers and cable television channels, are often behind on payroll or pay only portions of salaries, journalists frequently complain. But they aren’t the only ones. “I’m facing so many troubles in this company,” said a 36-year-old computer specialist at a medical service firm in Lahore. “We have not received our salary from July.” The worker asked not to be identified because, he said, his employer would fire him. He and his wife have been living with his parents, he said, hoping at least for money for Eid, which was celebrated this week.. The firm has more than 100 employees, he said. The boss says, “‘I will pay you tomorrow, I will pay tomorrow,’ ” the worker said. “I am very discouraged.” The Muslim holy month of Ramadan and the Eid holiday that follows contribute to the problem by adding stress to a financial system that already makes it hard for companies to borrow. “The banks typically go through a significant liquidity drain during this season because not only do individual customers withdraw a lot of cash, but companies also sometimes hand out Eid bonuses to employees,” Farooq Tirmizi, a senior financial writer for the Express Tribune, explained in an e-mail. “The central bank’s rules effectively prohibit the banks from lending to large swaths of the economy, especially the services sector and agribusiness,” he said. “So even some very sizable companies cannot borrow to pay their Eid bills.” The government-reported poverty rate was 23 percent in 2006 — the last major survey done — but that figure has been challenged and is likely double that, especially in rural parts of the country and the semiautonomous tribal areas. Underemployment in urban areas is another problem: Educated people are settling for any job they can find, even if wages are low — and even if they might not get a paycheck for months. Said the unpaid computer specialist, who has 18 years of experience in his field: “I still go to work because I have no other option.”
http://www.rferl.orgMilitants' storming of a Pakistani Air Force base where some nuclear warheads are reportedly stored has once again sounded the alarms about the security of the country's atomic weapons.